CECC Releases 2023 Annual Report

CECC Releases 2023 Annual Report

(WASHINGTON, DC)—U.S. Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chair and Cochair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) issued today the Commission’s 2023 Annual Report on human rights conditions and rule of law developments in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The full report and an executive summary are available for download on the CECC’s website.

“The Annual Report sets the standard in terms of documenting the People’s Republic of China’s failure to abide by human rights norms and in holding Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their repeated and sustained atrocities and crimes against humanity – up to and including that most pernicious of human rights violations, genocide,” said CECC Chair Smith.  The CECC staff does great work on the Annual Report and throughout the year, maintaining a state-of-the-art political prisoner database and organizing cutting-edge hearings that lead to heightened awareness and actionable legislation. The annual report will continue to guide Congress and the Administration on PRC policy, and I hope provide corporations with clarity, so that they are no longer complicity in the subsidization of tyranny.  Above all, it is my hope that the long-suffering people in Communist China know through our report that they have not been forgotten, and that they, and we, can look forward to that day when oppression ends.”

“The people of China deserve to enjoy the full range of human rights to which they are entitled under international law. As the Congressional-Executive Commission on China documents in this report, the Chinese government continues to deny them their ability to exercise these rights,” said CECC Cochair Merkley. “This report highlights the new ways that Chinese authorities are violating their citizens’ basic rights, including the use of digital and biometric surveillance and transnational repression of Americans and others, and calls attention to the prisoners of conscience for whom we must continue to raise our voices. I urge Congress and the Biden Administration to act on the CECC’s policy recommendations.” 

The 2023 Annual Report reflects the view of CECC commissioners that the failure of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to fulfill its obligations under international treaties, along with its systematic violation of human rights, pose a challenge to the rules-based international order and to the safety and security of U.S. citizens and residents. These challenges require robust efforts by the U.S. and its allies to address genocide; stanch the import of forced labor made goods; circumvent censorship of the free flow of news and information; stop malign influence operations targeting U.S. citizens and their families; and shine a light on the arbitrary detention and torture of political prisoners in China and Hong Kong. All of these issues are documented in great detail in the 2023 Annual Report’s 20 chapters. 

The 2023 Annual Report includes a new chapter entitled “Technology-Enhanced Authoritarianism,” recognizing the role that new technologies play in surveillance, censorship, and repression of fundamental freedoms in the PRC and around the world.       

Among other issues documented in the 2023 Annual Report are:

Harassment and intimidation campaigns by PRC agents (transnational repression) targeting U.S. citizens and residents.   

• The complicity of global brands and businesses in forced labor and the creation of mass biometric surveillance systems in the PRC.  

• National security laws being used as a pretext to prevent the exercise of rights and to jail Chinese and Hong Kong rights defenders.  

• Ongoing genocide in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and PRC propaganda efforts to quell international concern.

• Efforts to destroy the language and culture of ethnic groups, including Tibetans and Uyghurs.

• The vulnerability of North Koreans women to trafficking and forced repatriation.

• Multiple protests against labor restrictions, censorship, and harsh implementation of the “zero-COVID” pandemic policy.

• Tightening control exerted over a wide range of civil society organizations and advocacy deemed politically threatening, including harsh crackdowns on religious believers and communities.

The report also includes recommendations for congressional and executive branch action. The CECC Chairs and Commissioners have championed bipartisan legislative and advocacy efforts to bolster U.S. human rights diplomacy that emerged from the research of the Annual Report. In the 117th Congress legislative initiatives include the--

• Transnational Repression Policy Act (S. 831 / H.R. 3654)

• Uyghur Genocide Accountability and Sanctions Act (H.R. 8124 / S. 1770)

• Hong Kong Economic Trade Office Certification Act (S. 490 / H.R. 1103)

• Stop Organ Harvesting Act (H.R. 1154 / S. 761)

In addition, robust implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act—which was led by the Commission’s Chairs and former Chairs—remains a priority of Commission reporting, advocacy, and legislative initiatives, including championing additional funding for enforcement efforts and stopping U.S. Government procurement of seafood processed by forced labor or Uyghurs and North Koreans. The UFLPA is the strongest action taken anywhere in the world to address the importation of goods made by the slave labor of ethnic minorities in China.

The Commission continues to maintain a Political Prisoner Database that provides detailed information on thousands of political prisoner cases, including individuals in Hong Kong. The Commission continued to highlight political prisoner cases and advocate for their release via public statements and social media. A list of 16 representative cases highlighted in this year’s report can be found in the 2023 Annual Report.

Chair Smith and Cochair Merkley commend the outstanding work of the capable and professional CECC’s research staff in producing the Commission’s 22nd Annual Report.